Vodafone’s Tralee Store Introduces Autism Friendly Hours

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Adam Harris, CEO, AsIAm; Anita Carra, Consumer Director, Vodafone Ireland; and James Magill, HR Director, Vodafone Ireland at the launch of Vodafone Ireland’s Autism Friendly retail programme which is now available across 25 Vodafone stores nationwide including in Tralee. Photo: Naoise Culhane

VODAFONE Ireland has announced the introduction of Autism-friendly retail hours at its Tralee store in The Square.

The launch is part of a company-wide neurodiversity programme which runs across retail, employment opportunities, events and education.

The programme will see reduced noise, priority seating and appointments every Wednesday between 9am and 11am.

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The aim of this new initiative is to ensure a better digital future is accessible to all, making technology and employment opportunities more accessible to members of the autism community.

The introduction of autism friendly retail hours is part of the wider autism friendly programme being run by Vodafone Ireland. Autism immediately affects a quarter of a million people in Ireland when taking in the family unit.

Vodafone is committed to helping this community by creating accessibility measures in store, supporting inclusive employment and making its technology services more accessible to autistic people.

The programme has been created in partnership with AsIAm, a not-for-profit charity organisation working on behalf of the Autism Community in Ireland to empower, educate and advocate concerns for the Autism Community.

AsIAm also work on improving the understanding, awareness and support of Autism across Ireland and the charity has undergone an environmental audit in Vodafone retail stores.

The audit aims to identify opportunities to improve the shopping experience for autistic visitors, noting areas of difficulty in-store.

An autistic person may become overwhelmed by their sensory environment. To help with this, Vodafone retail stores will offer the free use of a variety of sensory inputs to its customers in store.

This will be in the form of a ‘Relaxation Box’, which will be easily accessible to all customers, and will include sunglasses with visor, stress ball, ear defender and scented tags.

Not only will Vodafone be providing these services for customers in store, it has developed a training module for staff in conjunction with AsIAm. This course aims to educate Vodafone retail staff about autism and give them the tools and knowledge to meaningfully include people on a day-to-day basis.

Adam Harris, CEO, AsIAm, said: “We want to extend our congratulations to Vodafone on becoming Ireland’s first autism-friendly telecommunications company. Autistic people can find shopping, securing employment and dealing with administrative processes overwhelming, stressful and inaccessible. This can come from busy sensory environments, unclear communication and not knowing what to expect in a given situation. Staff training, proactive measures to support and recruit autistic talent and creating a calmer shopping time not only supports the autism community but puts in place inclusive, people friendly measures for all.” For more information, visit: www.vodafone.com

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